In our synagogue, we read the book of Kohelet on Sukkot. I believe it’s called “Ecclesiastes” in English. What is the reason for this custom?


A major theme of Kohelet is the futility of mundane pursuits and pleasures, and the search for deeper meaning to life. Sukkot is also known as Chag ha-Asif—the Festival of Ingathering. It’s the time of year when the harvest has ended, and the crops are gathered and stored for the coming year. It’s a moment of great satisfaction, as one can see the fruits of his labor before him.

Kohelet shakes our contentment with the reminder that mundane accomplishments are fleeting and empty. Even at the close of the harvest, we must seek real achievement and fulfillment.

Sukkot itself demonstrates this theme by the commandment to live in temporary dwellings. We move outside our home, which provides a sense of permanence and comfort, and instead dwell in a flimsy hut. This recalls the transience of physicality, as does the book of Kohelet.